Actor Brad Pitt has put $200,000 and immeasurable PR value into a competition for sustainable and affordable housing in New Orleans.
Organized with the nonprofit Global Green USA, the contest was intended to spark development in the city's flood-ravaged Ninth Ward. The winning plan, dubbed GREEN.O.LA calls for 12 apartment units, six single-family houses, a community center, and a day-care facility to be built on 1.5 acres along the Mississippi River. Developer Trizec Properties Inc. has donated $100,000 toward the purchase of the land.
Pitt, who calls himself an “architecture junkie,” came up with the idea for the competition. He also chaired the jury, which included Pritzker laureate Thom Mayne of Morphosis. GREEN.O.LA, selected from more than 160 entries, comes from Matthew Berman and Andrew Kotchen of the New York firm Workshop/apd.
Their scheme features modular structures in long, narrow forms that recall the shotgun houses destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. A land bridge links residents to the Mississippi in a positive way, and steel framing and construction techniques will be resistant to future hurricanes. Berman and Kotchen aimed for net-zero energy consumption with photovoltaics, geothermal heat pumps, water-reclamation systems, and green-roof treatments.
“It's supposed to be a model for sustainability on the Gulf Coast,” Berman says.
GREEN.O.LA will cost an estimated $5 million to complete, according to Berman. Global Green is raising funds for construction, and Pitt, who will be filming in New Orleans over the winter, has vowed to watch over the project.
“This competition captures some of our best qualities as a society, our ingenuity, and our goodwill,” Pitt says. “Our goal is to actually get them built.” LINDA HALES
At press time, the designs from the competition's six finalists were viewable at http://competition.globalgreen.org/images/final_panels.